Russia

History

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, its armies advanced quickly through the Soviet republics on the Baltic Sea, through Byelorussia and Ukraine, before entering the territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Hoping to win the war within a few months, the German forces were stopped near Moscow at the end of 1941. Unable to resume the offensive on the entire eastern front in the spring of 1942, they opted for a push towards the south-east, occupying all of Ukraine in the process and reaching the Northern Caucasus by August 1942. At this point, Germany had captured a vast geographical space between besieged Leningrad and the Northern Caucasus. All the German-occupied territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, including the Crimean Peninsula, came under German military administration. Most of it was liberated again by the Red Army in 1943. Soviet troops returned to the North Caucasus in January-February 1943 and to central-western Russia mainly in the summer and autumn of 1943. The western regions of the Soviet Union remained under German rule until 1944.

In 1939, some 109,000,000 people lived in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. On the eve of the invasion, there were some 207,000 Jews in the territories that were to come under German occupation, about one percent of the total population in that area. During the first months of the war, most Jews either managed to escape on their own, or they were evacuated by the Soviet government, generally to the Northern Caucasus and to southern Russia. Jewish evacuees were relocated to southern Russia until mid-December 1941. This area came under German occupation in 1942. Due to the speed of the German advance, however, and poor means of transportation, a considerable number of Jews could not get away in time and found themselves under German occupation.

The German murder campaign against the Jews on Russian territory was carried out by the Einsatzgruppen. It started as early as summer 1941 in the northwest and in many places in the central-western region of Russia and lasted until the beginning of 1943. In the south-western territories of Russia, including the Northern Caucasus, which were occupied only between July and November 1942, the murder of the Jews began later and the period of extermination was very short. According to some estimates, the extermination of the Jews in Russia between 1941 and 1943 left between 60,000 and 100,000 dead.

Archival Situation

The senior authority in the archival system of Russia is the Federal Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv). Only the federal archives are under its actual authority, i.e. only the archives situated in Moscow – such as State Archives of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoy Federatsyi, GARF), the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsyalno-politicheskoy istorii, RGASPI), and others. There are also Ministerial archives, which are not subject to the authority of Rosarkhiv. Important examples include the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry (Tsentralnyi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony RF, TsAMO) and the archives of the security services. The Regional Archives are only partially subordinated to the Rosarkhiv as they largely depend on the local authorities.

EHRI Research (Summary)

EHRI has identified a number of helpful archival guides on Russia, some of which are available online. A list is provided in the extensive report. Preliminary contact with key Holocaust research and archival institutions in Russia has been established in order to facilitate future exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in the country. In order to identify the Russian archival institutions which store Holocaust-relevant resources, EHRI relied on expert knowledge readily available in EHRI’s partner institutions, such as Yad Vashem and the Warsaw-based Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, ŻIH). As a result, EHRI has identified 54 archives which are either certain to hold Holocaust-relevant material or can be expected to do so. While the full list can also be found in the extensive report, at least four central institutions should be named here:

  • the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF) in Moscow, which include the files of the Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee files as well as the Nuremberg Collection,
  • the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow, which holds the files of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the General Headquarters of the Partisans in the Soviet Union with reports on the occupied areas,
  • the Central Archives of the Russian Defence Ministry (TsAMO) in Podolsk, which holds reports from Red Army records (Main Political Administration of the Red Army, GLAVPUR) resembling those of the Partisan’s General HQ in RGASPI and stores “trophy” (captured) documents mostly of German provenance, and
  • the Russian State Military Archives (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv, RGVA), which houses a large number of similarly captured collections.

Regional archives hold local files generated by the abovementioned Extraordinary Commission as well as material from local occupation administrations.

Based on the results of a joint survey of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, EHRI integrated 9 collection descriptions from the Russian State Archives of the Socio-Political History (RGASPI).

EHRI Research (Extensive)

A. EHRI approach to Russia: Pre-existing research, available archival guides, expert support

EHRI’s exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in Russia could rely on some important pre-existing research in the field, which tends, however, to deal with “Russia” under the more general heading of the Soviet Union. Dieter Pohl’s “Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht. Deutsche Militärbesatzung und einheimische Bevölkerung in der Sowjetunion 1941-1944” (2008) and Yitzhak Arad’s “The Holocaust in the Soviet Union” (2009), which have made use of archival material Russia long before EHRI, should be mentioned.

EHRI was able to identify a number of helpful archival guides, some of which are available online:

Furthermore, the following traditional archival guides, ordered by year of publication, are available:

  • [2011] Boris Kovalev, “Archivnyje materialy FSB RF o kholokoste na okkupirovannoi territorii Rossii”, in: Kholokost: Novye issledovaniia i materialy (37, 2011: 26-34),
  • [2005] Fishman, David, Mark Kupovetsky & Vladimir Kuzelenkov (eds.), Dokumenty po istorii i kulture evreev v trofeinykh kollektsiakh Rossiiskogo Gosudarstvennogo Voennogo arkhiva. Putevoditel (Jewish Documentary Sources Among the Trophy Collections of the Russian State Military Archive) (Moskva: RGGU, 2005),
  • [2000] Grimsted, Patricia Kennedy (ed.), Archives of Russia. A Directory and Bibliographic Guide to Holdings in Moscow and St. Petersburg (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2000, vol. 1-2),
  • [1997] Dokumenty po istorii i kultury evreev v arkhivach Moskvy. Putevoditel (Moskva: RGGU, 1997),
  • [1997] Kupovetsky, Mark, Evgenii Starostin & Marek Web (eds.), Jewish Documentary Sources in Moscow Archives: A Guide (Moscow/New York: RSUH, JTS, YIVO, 1997),
  • [1996] Sallis, Dorit & Marek Web (eds.), Jewish Documentary Sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus: A Preliminary List (New York: JTS, 1996),
  • [1994] Elyasevich, D., Dokumentalnye materialy po istorii evreev v arkhivach SNG i stranach Baltii: predvaritelnyi spisok arkhivnych fondov (Akropol, 1994),
  • [1992] Götz Aly & Susanne Heim, Das Zentrale Staatsarchiv in Moskau ("Sonderarchiv"). Rekonstruktion und Bestandsverzeichnis verschollen geglaubten Schriftguts aus der NS-Zeit (Düsseldorf, 1992).

EHRI established contact with central Russian archival authorities in order to facilitate future exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in the country, whose full extent and importance have yet to be determined. Apart from the repository descriptions, Michał Czajka, from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, added 9 collection descriptions for the Russian State Archives of the Socio-Political History (RGASPI). The selection of the collections was based on the results of a joint survey of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem.

B. Characteristics of Russia’s archival system and specific challenges

The senior authority in the archival system of Russia is the Federal Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv). Only the federal archives are under its actual authority, i.e. only the archives situated in Moscow – such as State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF), the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI), and others. There are also ministerial archives, which are not subject to the authority of Rosarkhiv. Important examples include the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry (TsAMO) and the archives of the security services. The Regional Archives are only partially subordinated to the Rosarkhiv as they largely depend on the local authorities.

C. EHRI identification and description results on Russia

C.I. In Russia

Important Holocaust-related collections at the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF) include the files of the Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee files as well as the Nuremberg Collection. The Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) most importantly holds the files of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the General Headquarters of the Partisans in the Soviet Union, which contain reports on the occupied areas. Similar reports from Red Army records (GLAVPUR) can be found at the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry (TsAMO), which also houses captured “trophy” documents mostly of German provenance. The Russian State Military Archive (RGVA) houses a large number of similarly captured collections. Regional archives hold local files generated by the abovementioned Extraordinary Commission as well as material from local occupation administrations.

EHRI identified 55 archival institutions which (may) hold Holocaust-relevant material in Russia. A dozen of them are concentrated in Moscow. Three more are located in cities near Moscow: Podolsk, Domodedovo and Krasnogorsk.

  • the State Archives of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoy Federatsyi, GARF),
  • the State Archives of the Socio-Political History (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsyalno-politicheskoy istorii, RGASPI),
  • the Russian State Military Archive (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv, RGVA),
  • the State Archives of Literature and Art (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva, RGALI),
  • the Moscow Holocaust Foundation/Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre (Nauchno-Prosvetitelnyi Tsentr i Fond Kholokost),
  • the Scientific Archive of the Russian History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Nauchnyi arkhiv Instituta rossiyskoy istorii Rossiyskoy Akademii Nauk),
  • the Russian State Archive of the Economy (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv ekonomiki, RGAĖ),
  • the Central Archive of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs (Tsentralnyi arkhiv Ministerstva vnutrennikh del RF),
  • the State Sound Recordings Archives (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv fonodokumentov, RGAFD),
  • the Central Archive of the Federal Security Service (Tsentralnyi arkhiv Federalnoy Sluzhby Bezopasnosti, TsA FSB),
  • the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (Arkhiv vneshney politiki Rossiiskoy Federatsyi, AVP RF),
  • the Central State Archive of Moscow Oblast (Tsentralnyi Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Moskovskoy oblasti),
  • the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense (Tsentralnyi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony RF, TsAMO) in Podolsk,
  • the State Fond of Motion Pictures of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi fond kinofilmov Rossiyskoy Federacyi) in Domodedovo,
  • the State Archives of Film, Video & Photo Records (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv kinofotodokumentov, RGAKFD) in Krasnogorsk.
  • Russian Red Cross Tracing and Information Centre(ЦЕНТР РОЗЫСКА И ИНФОРМАЦИИ РОССИЙСКОГО КРАСНОГО КРЕСТА).

A smaller cluster of relevant archival institutions has formed in or near St. Petersburg:

  • the Central State Archive of St. Petersburg (Tsentralnyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Sankt-Peterburga),
  • the Central State Archive of Historical-Political Documents of St. Petersburg (Tsentralnyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv istoriko-politicheskikh dokumentov Sankt-Peterburga),
  • the Military Medical Museum (Voenno-Medicinskii Musey),
  • the Leningrad Oblast State Archive in Vyborg (Leningradskiy oblastnoy Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv v Vyborge).

In 14 other cities of the Russian Federation, mostly regional capitals or capitals of autonomous member-republics, EHRI has found that they offer one State Archive and one Contemporary History Archive which stems back to a former Communist Party Archive. These types of archives are located in Belgorod, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Krasnodar, Kursk, Nalchik, Pskov, Rostov, Smolensk, Stavropol, Tula, Tver, Volgograd and Voronezh. EHRI has also identified a potentially Holocaust-relevant archival institution in each of the following cities: Bryansk, Birobidzhan, Cherkessk, Elista, Novgorod, Orel and Penza.

  • the State Archive of Belgorod Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Belgorodskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Contemporary History of Belgorod Oblast (Gossudarstvenniy Archiv Novshey Istorii Belgorodskoy Oblasti, AGKU “GANIBO”),
  • the State Archive of Bryansk Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Brianskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Yevreyskoy avtonomnoy oblasti) in Birobidzhan,
  • the Central State Archive of the Kabardin-Balkar Republic (Tsentralnyi Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Kabardino-Balkarskoy Respubliki) in Nalchik,
  • the Centre of Documentation of Contemporary History of the Kabardin-Balkar Republic (Tsentr dokumentatsyi noveyshey istorii Kabardino-Balkarskoy Respubliki) in Nalchik,
  • the National Archive of the Republic of Kalmykia (Natsyonalnyi arkhiv Respubliki Kalmykia) in Elista,
  • the State Archive of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Karachaevo-Cherkesskoy Respubliki) in Cherkessk,
  • the State Archive of the Kaliningrad Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Kaliningradskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Contemporary History of Kaliningrad Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveyshey istorii Kaliningradskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Kaluga Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Kaluzhskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive for Records of Contemporary History of Kaluga Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv dokumentov noveyshey istorii Kaluzhskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Krasnodar Kray (Gosudarstvennyyi arkhiv Krasnodarskogo kraya),
  • the Centre of Documentation of Contemporary History of Krasnodar Kray (Tsentr dokumentatsii noveyshey istorii Krasnodarskogo kraya),
  • the State Archive of Kursk Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Kurskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Social and Political History of Kursk Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv obshchestvenno-politicheskoy istorii Kurskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Novgorod Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Novgorodskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Orel Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Orlovskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Penza Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Penzenskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Pskov Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Pskovskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Contemporary History of Pskov Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveyshey istorii Pskovskoy oblasti, GANI PO),
  • the State Archive of Rostov Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rostovskoy oblasti),
  • the Centre for Documentation of Contemporary History of Rostov Oblast (Tsentr dokumentatsyi noveyshey istorii Rostovskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Smolensk Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Smolenskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Contemporary History of Smolensk Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveyshey istorii Smolenskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Stavropol Kray (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Stavropolskogo kraya),
  • the State Archive of Contemporary History of Stavropol Kray (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveyshey istorii Stavropolskogo kraya),
  • the State Archive of Tula Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Tulskoy oblasti),
  • the Centre of Contemporary History of Tula Oblast (Tsentr noveyshey istorii Tulskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Tver Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Tverskoy oblasti),
  • the Tver Centre of Documentation of Contemporary History (Tverskoy tsentr dokumentatsii noveyshey istorii),
  • the State Archive of Volgograd Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Volgogradskoy oblasti),
  • Centre of Documentation of Contemporary History of Volgograd Oblast (Tsentr dokumentatsyi noveyshey istorii Volgogradskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Voronezh Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Voronezhskoy oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Social and Political History of Voronezh Oblast (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv obshchestvenno-politicheskoy istorii Voronezhskoy oblasti),

C.II. In other countries

Outside of Russia, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections that are relevant to Holocaust research on Russia. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for instance, holds selected records from a number of Russian Federation archives, both capital and regional. In Israel, Yad Vashem also holds significant documentation from archives in Russia and a huge quantity of sources pertaining to Jewish individuals and/or groups during the Holocaust period.